Survival of hot air balloon crash attributed to God's help

Family members and rescue workers are crediting God for what they described as the miraculous rescue of five women who survived a recent hot air balloon crash in Peru.

"Training and God's help made us victorious," said Julissa Laguna, the pilot of the military helicopter that found five women who lived through an April 28 hot air balloon crash in the ocean south of Lima. 

Rescuers were able to rescue five survivors on April 29. The body of the pilot was found washed up on a beach, while a seventh passenger remains missing.

Laguna said it was a "miracle" that the rescue team found the women, who survived nine hours at sea despite hypothermia and exhaustion.

She explained that they spotted the survivors with their own eyes and without the aid of any kind of radar or electronic equipment.

"The sky was overcast and we feared they were already dead," Laguna recounted. "Suddenly, the co-pilot saw movement in the sea and after a scary maneuver we found the women. It was the most exciting moment of my life."

Norka Quezada, whose 17-year-old daughter Francesca Maldonado was among the rescued survivors, told reporters that she has "never experienced such anguish" as she felt during the hours that the teenager was missing.

"My daughter is alive and that's what matters," she said.

Aurora Toledo, the mother of two other survivors, explained that during their moments of anguish, "we never lost faith and hope in God."

Turning to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the rosary, she said, "we never stopped praying to God for my daughters."

Toledo thanked the rescuers, especially the members of the Peruvian navy, as well as all those who offered their aid and support during the difficult time.

She also voiced gratitude to "so many friends in Peru and abroad for their prayers."

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